2 January 2006 | jotix100
An American original
George Gershwin was perhaps, America's greatest composer. Judging by his output of popular songs, as well as some of the serious music he left behind. George Gershwin was a man that got his inspiration by a lot of the popular and black music he heard when he was growing up and mixed it with some of the classical music that he learned as a young piano student. The result is a body of work that is not easy equaled by any of his contemporaries.
In "Rhapsody in Blue", his biographical picture, director Irving Rapper has recreated that period in the young composer's life with the help of the screen play writers, Howard Koch, Sonya Levien, and the uncredited Clifford Odets, as he takes us along to witness a account on this original music man.
We get to see the ambitious George, who could play anything on the piano his parents intended for his brother Ira to study music. It was clear from the start George was a natural who had no problem composing some of the best melodies that became standards during the 20th century and continue to delight us after so many years.
Along the way there is the story of the man who falls in love with the lovely and sophisticated Christine Gilbert, who he met in France. Julie Adams, the girl who was to become the star in many of his shows, loved George in silence. Of course, these two women are a product of the writers imagination, or a composite for the real women in his life.
We are also shown the world in which George lived. There is Prof. Frank, who taught the young man the best of the classical piano repertoire. His parents, Morris and Rose, who adored their sons. We also meet some of the men that shaped his life like Max Dreyfus, his manager, Oscar Levant, his friend and best interpreter, along with some real figures like Paul Whiteman, George White, Al Jolson, Hazel Scott, among others.
Robert Alda resembled the real George Gershwin; his take on the man rings true. Joan Leslie is Julie Adams, and Alexis Smith is Christine Gilbert, the women in George life. Charles Coburn plays Max Dreyfus. Morris Carnovsky and Rosemary DeCamp are seen as the parents.
The best excuse to watch the film is the glorious music one hears in it. The movie is easy on the eye, and while it might not be accurate, it still makes for a pleasant view of this genius of some of the best American popular music of all times.